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Beyond Paris 2024, Irish Mixed Offshore Duo Kenny Rumball & Pamela Lee Give Their Reaction to IOC Volte Face

27th April 2021
Mixed Irish offshore pairing Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee
Irish Offshore goals - mixed Irish offshore pairing Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee Credit: Thomas Deregnieaux/Sardinha Cup

As World Sailing looks for alternatives for its Mixed Offshore Keelboat for Paris 2024, fledgeling mixed Irish pairing Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee, who are campaigning in France this season, are taking the disappointment in their stride. The Dun Laoghaire and Greystones pairing believe Irish sailors have a lot more to look forward to in the international offshore sailing discipline other than the Olympics.

Here, in a statement for Afloat, 'RL Sailing', give their reaction and set out campaign plans beyond Paris 2024.

RL Sailing Continue with Offshore Sailing Plans

RL Sailing's reaction to the current uncertainty of the mixed double-handed class for Paris 2024 is to continue with overarching offshore sailing goals.

RL Sailing, the double-handed offshore sailing partnership of Dun Laoghaire's Kenneth Rumball and Greystones' Pamela Lee are the only team that have in 2021 been actively training and campaigning towards qualification to represent Ireland in the mixed double-handed keelboat class at the Paris 2024 Olympic Championships.

RL Sailing from Ireland competing in the 2021 Sarndinha CupRL Sailing from Ireland competing in the 2021 Sardinha Cup

Kenneth Rumball and Pamela Lee of RL Sailing have been competing and training in France in the Figaro 3 circuit. RL Sailing chose to compete and train in France as the standard and professionalism of shorthanded sailing especially in the Figaro class is unmatched anywhere in the world. This had been done at great personal and professional expense of the sailors and also their sponsors. Their campaign to date has been manifested through the hard work and dedication of the sailors, despite the obvious difficulties of the last year. Although Olympic qualification was the initial motivation that formed the team, their overarching sailing goals have always been to learn, to improve, to compete at the highest level of offshore sailing and to represent Ireland in doing so. The team's participation in the French offshore sailing circuit has already contributed to all of these goals and will continue doing so as they go on to complete their 2021 doublehanded season with the 'Tour De Bretagne De Voile' and 'The Rolex Fastnet.'

That said, RL Sailing's project aims were never solely focused on competing and representing Ireland for the Paris 2024 Olympics. The team's goals are far broader, and they will continue to work towards achieving them through their ongoing campaign.

These include:

  • To be the catalyst for increased female participation within Irish Offshore Racing.
  • To create opportunities for aspiring offshore sailors and to increase public engagement within Ireland.
  • To capitalize on Offshore sailing's unique potential to attract a greater public audience due to the human, adventure and 24-hour live streaming elements.
  • To grow Ireland's participation, support and engagement with Offshore Sailing.
  • To create pathways, inspiration and opportunities for aspiring female & male sailors in Ireland.
  • To mandate change for gender equality and greater inclusion within sport and leadership in Ireland.
  • To compete at the top level of international ocean racing.

"The Olympics provided a clear pathway to work towards achieving our goals, something that is not always the case in competitive ocean racing. It also provided great potential to open the sport up to the broader public and engage with a wider audience internationally. However, our sport is very diverse, and there are many more avenues, opportunities and races to pursue, and the growth of the double-handed offshore circuit internationally is very exciting." – says the team.

Pamela Lee - "I didn't start Ocean racing because I wanted to go to the Olympics - I do it because I love it!Pamela Lee - "I didn't start Ocean racing because I wanted to go to the Olympics - I do it because I love it!"

"I didn't start Ocean racing because I wanted to go to the Olympics - I do it because I love it! The Olympics was an awesome goal to work towards and a great opportunity to open our sport up to broader participation and great equality, but I have plenty of other big ocean racing goals to shoot for, and everything we've done as RL Sailing so far has contributed to that," says Pamela Lee

Kenny Rumball - "my shorthanded offshore sailing experience in France has completely broadened my horizons"Kenny Rumball - "my shorthanded offshore sailing experience in France has completely broadened my horizons"

"Although I've done a considerable amount of Offshore racing abroad, our shorthanded offshore sailing experience in France with a view to the Olympics had completely broadened my horizons on more challenging and demanding offshore sailing. I would like to continue challenging myself in this way and also to help more young Irish sailors to do the same, says Skipper Kenneth Rumball.

RL Sailing has many projects and campaign goals that they hope to launch and capitalise on in the very near future. The team are keen to hear from persons or parties that would endeavour to work with them to obtain the goals of their project.

Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee

Kenneth Rumball

About The Author

Kenneth Rumball

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Kenny Rumball is the Principal of the Irish National Sailing School in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. He is a multi dinghy champion and offshore sailor. In 2018 he was awarded the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Seamanship Trophy for a Man Overboard Rescue in the Round Ireland Race. In May 2020 he embarked on a mixed offshore doublehanded keelboat campaign with Pamela Lee.

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Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat

For the first time in sailing's Olympic history, a Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat event will be on the slate at the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Competition.

The Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat will join kiteboarding, windsurfing, multihulls, singlehanded and doublehanded dinghies and skiffs, promoting the diversity of the sport. This, in turn, will support World Sailing's desire to promote and grow universality in all disciplines and increase female participation with gender-equal medals and athletes.

Offshore sailing is the ultimate test of endurance, skill, discipline, navigation and critical decision making.

Embracing a major part of sailing in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games will enable new stars of the sport to come to the forefront.

Qualification

Offshore sailing is a universal discipline that every World Sailing Member National Authority (MNA) can participate in.

Up to 20 nations will be on the start line at Paris 2024 and sailors from every continent will be represented. To qualify for the Olympic Games, continental qualification events will be held and competition for a spot will be hotly contested.

Equipment

For qualification events, World Sailing will approve a list of one-design boats that are already regionally available and can be accessed as a charter boat. Boats will be equalised to ensure fair competition.

For Paris 2024, World Sailing's Council will select a list of different Equipment it considers to meet the key criteria by 31 December 2020 and then make a decision on the Equipment, selecting from the list, no later than 31 December 2023.

MNAs, Class Associations and Manufacturers have all been invited to propose Equipment for the list and a World Sailing Working Party will evaluate each proposal. A recommended list will be presented to Council for approval in November 2020.

This recommended Equipment list will ensure that event organisers, MNAs and the sailors have opportunities to train and compete in Equipment that is readily available and affordable within their continent and country. It will also ensure each MNA has a fair opportunity to prepare for qualification events and eventually, Paris 2024.

Format

Starting and finishing in Marseille, the Mixed Offshore event is expected to last for either three days and two nights or four days and three nights off the French coastline and whoever crosses the finish line first will be declared Olympic champion.

The race course and length will be announced in the lead up to the start so the competition can take advantage of the latest weather forecast. Current options proposed include long and short courses heading towards the West and East of France.

Safety and Security

The French Navy and Mediterranean forces have extensive experience of supporting major oceanic sailing races. They will provide safety and security at Paris 2024.

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